25 February 2013

Giorgio Chirco contra Giorgio Chirico

Giorgio De Chirico was once, for a short period of his life, an absolutely amazing pre-surreal painter. One of the pioneers of the magical, dreamy and captivating world of imagination in his highly original paintings. His work was very different, and unique for the time in which he created it. Even today if you are in the Tate Modern, or in other museums which have De Chirico's paintings in their collections, you will always immediately recognize his paintings but only those from the 'surreal period'. Even Breton loved him and admired him. This in itself was already a miracle, because as both rumours and facts tell us Breton was a real tyrant and he didn't like anybody. In Paris from 1911 to the outbreak of war De Chirico developed his 'Metaphysical painting': a self consciously enigmatic type of picture clearly inviting Freudian forms of interpretation. As he expressed himself in written text somewhere between 1911 and 1915:
To become truly immortal a work of art must escape all human limits: logic and common sense will only interfere. But once these barriers are broken it will enter the regions of childhood vision and dream. Profound statement must be drawn by the artist form the most secret recesses of his being; there no murmuring torrent, no birdsong, no rustle of leaves can distract him.
A few year later De Chirico deserted the new movement, actually all the avant-garde of his time, and become obsessed with the old masters, with the technical methods especially of earlier Italian painters. He abandoned his metaphysical - surreal - enigmatic style and became a classical painter. In his own words, written in 1919:
The neglect of anthropomorphic representation, and the deformation of it, encouraged entire legion of painters to turn out stupid and facile reproductions. With its return the problem of animal-man looms larger and more terrible than ever, since, this time, the right weapons to confront it are lacking, or rather they are in existence, but they are blunt, and many have forgotten how to use them. ...... To return to the craft! This will not be easy and will demand time and toil. The schools and the masters are deficient, or rather they are vilified by the colouristic riot that has invaded Europe in this half-century. The academies exist, full of methods and systems, but, alas, what results they produce! What on earth would the weakest student of 1600 say if he could see a masterpiece by a professore of an Italian academy, or by a cher maǐtre of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Paris?
Back to the old De Chirico from the Metaphysical paintings:
It is most important that we should rid art of all that is has contained or recognizable material to date, all familiar subject-matter, all traditional ideas, all popular symbols must be banished forthwith. More important still we must hold enormous faith in ourselves: it is essential that the revelation we receive, the conception of an image which embraces a certain thing, which has no sense in itself, which has no subject, which means absolutely nothing from the logical point of view (... ) should speak so strongly to us, evoke such agony or joy, that we feel compelled to paint...
What a contrast and contradiction to his ideas from a few years later:
This is the point we have reached. This is the state of confusion, ignorance and overwhelming stupidity in the midst of which the very few painters whose brains are clear and whose eyes are clean are preparing to return to pictorial science following the principles and teaching of our old masters. Their first lesson was drawing, drawing, the divine art, the foundation of every plastic construction, skeleton of every good work, eternal law that every artifice must follow. Drawing, ignored, neglected and deformed by all modern painters....
Somehow after the First World War De Chirico returned to tradition and mastery. He summed it nicely:
I am calm, and I decorate myself with three words that I wish to be the seal of all my work: Pictor classicus sum.*
Everyone can change and everyone has the right to do so. Unfortunately in the case of De Chirico his decision to reject his enigmatic style of painting, from the point of view of art history, wasn't such a good decision. Nobody really is interested in his work from the neo-classicism period. De Chirico wasn't really consequent in abandoning his most successful style, soon after 1920 he begun faking his own early work.

 In 1926 he created a work which now belongs to the Tate Modern collection entitled 'The Painter's Family'.

'The Painter's Family' by De Chirico - 1926

The painting was made in the 'metaphysical' style. He only did it for money, probably. But the work misses the enigmatic, the melancholic and the somehow depressive aspects of his early work. The Tate Modern owns two more paintings: the first 'The Uncertainty of Poet' is from 1913 and the second 'The Melancholy of Departure' from 1916.
 'The Uncertainty of Poet' by De Chirico 1913

'The Melancholy of Departure' by De Chirico 1916

* I am a classical painter

Another post about De Chirico:
Enigmatic poet of nostalgia - De Chirico

No comments: